Center for National and International Studies
“If the suicide of Karabakh veterans in this country no longer creates a public outrage and if it has become just a statistic, then we are all guilty.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Ilham Hasanov, a veteran of the Second Karabakh War, set himself on fire in front of the building of the Shamkir District Executive Authority as a sign of protest. He was hospitalized in serious condition. According to the doctors, the veteran admitted to the hospital has severe burn injuries. Hasanov was awarded the medal “for distinction in battle”. Criticizing the government for failing in providing support for the veterans, chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli added that “the public is also to blame for not being able to stand for the veterans and the country as a whole.” “If a veteran in this country sets himself on fire because he cannot get a disability status if the suicide of Karabakh veterans in this country no longer creates a public outrage if it has become just a statistic, then we are all guilty”, said Karimli.
AFP member Mammadov Elvin said that he was arrested for writing a poem to Ali Karimli, and even after being detained for a month, he was constantly harassed by the police. The poet talked about what happened to him in an interview with the Azadlig newspaper.
The criminal case related to the murder of reporter LGBTQI+ activist Avaz Shikhmammadov (Hafizli) is being considered at the Baku Serious Crimes Court. Media representatives and LGBTQI+ activists gathered in front of the court building. Activists raised slogans and protested the authorities’ failure to prevent hate crimes. The next trial was supposed to be held on July 4, but the case was postponed when one of the judges went on vacation. The next trial is scheduled for July 18.
Meydan TV reports that soldier Taghiyev Zeynalabdin, a resident of Salahli village of Yevlakh, died in Lachin. Locals of the village informed Meydan TV about the incident. “They called his uncle in the morning saying that your brother’s son was martyred, come and take the body,” said one of the residents. “We still don’t know exactly how it happened, but he was shot in the throat,” they said. The head of the Press Service of the Ministry of Defense, Anar Eyvazov, told Meydan TV that the issue is being investigated: “We are investigating and will respond.” An employee of the Yevlakh District Branch of the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription, who did not want to be named, confirmed the death of Ravan Taghiyev but said that he did not know anything about the reasons. “Right now, people are attending the soldier’s funeral, and I can’t say anything without the expert’s comment,” he said.
According to Rufat Safarov, the executive director of “Defense Line” Human Rights Organization, KIM TV conducted a consistent and principled investigation of the “Tartar case” and strongly criticized the government’s repressive policy against the activists, including the editor of KIM TV Abid Gafarov. According to the lawyer, Gafarov, who was detained on trumped-up charges, is expected to be imprisoned. A group of veterans filed a special complaint against Gafarov, claiming that they were insulted. Safarov said that the court also fulfills illegal orders by punishing those who want justice for the Tartar events, freedom of speech and opinion, and critical media in Azerbaijan. Safarov also added: “Each of us should express our support to the editor of KIM TV, Abid Gafarov, and oppose the next illegal and unfair decision of the courts. The murderers are protected, and those who seek justice are prosecuted.”
Niyamaddin Ahmadov, one of the imprisoned members of the APFP, reported to his party members that he was tortured again in prison No. 12, where he was detained. Ahmadov acted as a bodyguard of Ali Karimli, Chairperson of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan. He was arrested on a trumped-up charge of “financing terrorism” and subjected to severe torture for days while in detention. In his speech at the court, Ahmadov said that he was severely tortured into signing false statements against Karimli. This is the second time that N. Ahmadov has been subjected to ill-treatment and torture in prison No12, where he was detained.
According to Zaur Akbar, a human rights activist, the martyr Vugar Guliyev’s brother Gulkhan Guliyev was brutally beaten by the police. Vugar Guliyev was martyred in Shusha during the second Karabakh War. On the 4th of June, Agsu police officers beat Gulkhan Guliyev on the street, and then he was taken to the police station, where he was brutally beaten again by a large number of police officers. The Ministry of Interior said that Guluyev “injured himself.” Zeyni Huseynov, an employee of the Press Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said in his official statement that Guluyev was an alcoholic and was brought to the police station, but the police did not beat him. Guliyev and his family said that the information provided by the ministry about his addiction is slander. Commenting on the situation with the war veterans chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that he was too naïve during the war to expect the government to treat its citizens with dignity. Karimli wrote: “In the days of the second Karabakh war, we all believed that nothing would be the same in the country. There will be no more corrupt state policy, no more punishment for the heroes of Karabakh. Unfortunately, those hopes and expectations did not come true. The families of the martyrs and veterans of the Second Karabakh War are gradually being oppressed. The suicide of our veterans no longer surprises anyone, it becomes a statistic. Police violence also continues as if nothing happened. As if there was neither the 2nd Karabakh war nor the massive heroism of our people in that war. People know any way of governance other than violence and robbery. They plan to continue like this until our people stop them with their mass peaceful struggle.”
“The torture policy of the regime” caused a strong protest by Azerbaijani intellectuals, public representatives, and human rights defenders. Public figures demanding the authorities stop the tortures issued a joint statement. The statement signed by Jamil Hasanli, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, Gubad Ibadoglu, Khadija Ismayil, and many well-known opposition leaders and activists reads: “We request the country’s leadership to stop practicing torture as a governing mechanism. Those who order and execute these tortures should know that what they are doing is both a specific criminal act and a moral deficiency. The tortures against Niyamaddin Ahmadov and many others should not be repeated again, and those who committed these torture crimes should be brought to justice and punished. Demonstrating of Azerbaijan as a country where torture is used at the state level should be stopped.”
In Baku, a young man was caught stealing shampoo from a store because he couldn’t afford to buy it due to rising prices. Witnesses reported that the managers of the store slapped him, threw the shampoo bottle at him and splashed it on his face, and demanded 100 manats in addition to buying the three shampoos he stole. Even if he asked them to stop beating him by taking out the remaining 5-10 manats money in his pocket, the managers continued to insult him in public. Reacting to the incident, member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that “when there is so much corruption, looting, and injustice in the country, these people (managers), who don’t have the gut to speak out, are now assaulting a poor thief who has fallen into their hands.” Gahramanli also added: “As someone who has been in prison three times, I can say that 90 percent of thieves in prisons today are victims of “legal thieves” in power. Due to corruption and massive looting in the country, people who have become unemployed, have no source of income, and are desperate in the face of the problems they face struggle for survival, and some of them are forced to resort to criminal means at the last moment. Then these criminals, who became the victims of the “legal thieves” in power, are tried by the corrupt judges in the courts.”
Governance, Transparency and Corruption
Azadlig radio reports that a Russian military base is being built one kilometer from Tovuz, in the northwest of the country. A military base has been being built on the territory of the former airfield near Aygepar village of Berd region of Armenia for a month now, the Armenian service of Azadlig radio reported. On June 17, the Armenian government signed a protocol “On the deployment points of the Russian military base in the territory of Armenia”. According to local residents, a unit of the 102nd base of the Russian Armed Forces in Gyumri will be located there. The Ministry of Defense of Armenia does not provide information about the nature of the facility under construction, the number of servicemen, and the purpose of the facility. Aygepar village is located one kilometer from Alibeyli village of Tovuz district of Azerbaijan. Chairperson of Musavat Party Arif Hajili said that “the location of the Russian military base in that area should be considered as a threat not only to Azerbaijan, not only to regional states but also to international security.” “The government of Azerbaijan should bring the issue to the international discussion and achieve the suspension of the construction of this military base” added Hajili.
Russian rocket attacks on the Sviatogorsk district of Donetsk region caused the death of a family of Azerbaijani origin. It was reported that on July 5, the house of Ukrainian citizen Eldar Rzayev was hit by artillery fire from the Russian Armed Forces. As a result of the rocket attack, the house was completely destroyed. Eldar Rzayev, who was at home, was killed together with his wife.
Member of National Council of Democratic Forces Gultakin Hajibeyli said that “several political parties, organizations, bloggers, social activists, journalists demanded the National Council to organize a rally.” However, said Hajibeyli, without massive public support, the opposition can not do much. Hajibeyli wrote: “On the one hand, it is pleasing because everyone already recognizes the correct address for organizing mass protests. But on the other hand, we, as the opposition, are not only the representatives of political institutions, but first of all, the people’s desires and wishes, and our people do not yet demand mass and consistent rallies from us. That is to say, we do not feel such strong pressure from the public. Those who demand a rally from us are themselves active subjects of social and political relations, and if they believe that rallies are very necessary in the current situation, they can take such an initiative. This is their right, and we respect that right.”
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu shared a similar opinion by saying that as long as the authoritarian regime rules the country there won’t be any international support. Yagublu wrote: “The European Union plans to allocate half a trillion (500 billion) euros for the reconstruction of Ukraine after the end of the war. In our country, the war is over, and the Azerbaijani Army has liberated our towns and villages completely destroyed by the Armenians during the occupation. However, neither the EU nor any other international organization allocated us a single penny for recovery. Why? Because Ilham Aliyev, besides being an illegitimate president, is the most corrupt head of state in the world. Moreover, Azerbaijan does not aspire to the EU and presents it as an unnecessary and harmful institution. As if all this is not enough, Ilham Aliyev made Azerbaijan an ally of Russia, the enemy of the EU and the entire developed world. Moreover, the Azerbaijani authorities are not doing the necessary work at the level of international law for the occupying Armenia to pay compensation for these destructions. Of course, they won’t…”
Former acting president of Azerbaijan Isa Gambar, who gave an interview to Voice of America Radio about the problems and possibilities of US-Azerbaijan relations at the current stage, said that “unfortunately, in the relations of the West and the United States in our region, including Azerbaijan, the first of the three main topics is security, and the second is economic issues, especially energy issues, and human rights and democracy are only in third place.”
Political commentator Arastun Orujlu said that the government’s current foreign policy will be destructive in the long run. Orujlu wrote: Turkey consults all steps with Azerbaijan, the minister spoke about the importance of opening the Zangezur corridor and signing a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, official Baku “signs” agreements with Moscow that are against the interests of Azerbaijan and continues to take steps that serve the same goals. It is difficult to say how long this will last. Apparently, until the opposite side of the geopolitical struggle takes strict steps against Aliyev’s government. It is still unclear where these steps will come from – Ankara, London, or Washington. But one thing is already clear that the ongoing Moscow-Baku tandem will definitely bring both down.”
July 8, 2022